Year of the Scamp

I’m reading a remarkable book, The Importance of Living, by Lin Yutang, written in 1938. His thoughts on ‘The Scamp’ seem timely in a year when people have taken to the streets and dictators have fallen:

The scamp is probably the most glorious type of human being. In this present age of threats to democracy and individual liberty, probably only the spirit of the scamp alone will save us from becoming lost as serially numbered units in the masses of disciplined, obedient and regimented. The scamp will be the last and most formidable enemy of dictatorships. He will be the champion of human dignity and individual freedom, and will be the last to be conquered…

The scamp (or vagabond) is a type glorified in Chinese literature; and Lin Yutang describes the scamp-like qualities of humans as ‘a playful curiousity, a capacity for dreams, a sense of humour to correct those dreams, and a certain waywardness.’ There’s hope for us yet. (Year of Protest, New Yorker comment)

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